I'm trying to find the title of a Sturgeon story about an editor who starts to receive tremendously wonderful work from an author she does not know, until she gets a bad story. She is so intrigued she goes to visit him, and finds out that he's discovered a tiny alien ship (I believe) that abolishes all his irrational fear, allowing him to write the beautiful stories. The bad one he sent was written away from this ship.

The story really brought home a lesson in how much fear holds us back. The discovery of the alien ship may have been the climax.

As a guess, I'd say it was written post World War II, probably the 50's. I read this decades ago, and it's stuck with me, and I'd like to find it again.

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    @DavidW Thank you so much for the edit! MUCH improved the question...and brought me to the answer I've been seeking for so long so much quicker. Oct 26, 2019 at 3:54

2 Answers 2


The story is The Traveling Crag.

There is an amazing writer:

And then it happens. In comes a manuscript with a humble little covering note that says, "This is my first story, so it's probably full of mistakes that I don't know anything about. If you think it has anything in it, I'll be glad to fix it up any way you say." And you start reading it, and the story grabs you by the throat, shakes your bones, puts a heartbeat into your lymph ducts and finally slams you down gasping, weak and oh so happy.

Who suddenly writes a bad story:

"That's Sig Weiss." "The same Sig Weiss?" "The very same. Leaf through that thing, Naome. Nine bloody thousand words of it, and it's all like that. Go on—read it."

And it’s ultimately explained by the machine:

In times to come, your people will understand its radio chemistry; it is enough for you now to know that its most significant effect is to turn on the full analytical powers of the mind whenever fear is experienced. Panic occurs when analysis is shut off. Embarrassment occurs when fear is not analyzed. Hereafter, no truck-driver will fear to use the word 'exquisite,' no propagandist will create the semblance of truth by repeating falsehoods, no human group will be able to instill fears about any other human group which are not common to the respective individuals of the groups.

  • All that I posted under OrganicMarble's comment goes to you, too, Ernest. Thank you, too. And thank Mr. Sturgeon, of course. Oct 26, 2019 at 3:47

I think you're looking for The Traveling Crag (Sturgeon's story titles don't help find these answers!)

The writer Sig Weiss writes a wonderful story called "The Traveling Crag" but his follow-up work is a disaster. The agent sends as part of a telegram


Then Weiss sends another, wonderful story. In a meeting with the agent, he admits he has to be near the alien artifact to write well (it's described as a kind of amulet, but it turns out to be a tiny alien ship). The bad story was written when he wasn't.

I won't tell you where or what it is because, although I've lost my fear, I haven't lost my stubbornness.

Original magazine publication available at the Internet Archive.

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    Argh, you beat me by a few minutes! Have an upvote! Oct 25, 2019 at 1:18
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    Back at you with an upvote! Good answer. Happy to see another Sturgeon reader. Oct 25, 2019 at 1:18
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    Original magazine publication available at the Internet Archive: archive.org/details/Fantastic_Adventures_v13n07_1951-07/page/… Oct 25, 2019 at 18:10
  • "Comments are used to ask for clarification" Thank you...thank you eternally. This story has, well, haunted isn't the word. It's stayed with me for at least 45 years (yeah, early 70s it must have been). Last night, I suddenly realized this itnertube thing could help me find it...or find the right persons. And @OrganicMarble....blessings to you. As I say, it's been 45 years or so...and I bring an even richer ability to appreciate this. I feel like a door has opened.... Oct 26, 2019 at 3:45
  • We both posted answers almost simultaneously! Glad to help out, and welcome to the site. Oct 26, 2019 at 4:02

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